Throughput at the Port of Rotterdam in the first three quarters of 2020 has declined by 8.8% compared to the same period last year.
The port handled 322.3m tonnes in the first nine months of the year with crude oil, iron ore, coal and mineral oil products among the main categories to record a decline in volumes.
Containers handled up to and including the third quarter fell by 4.7% in teu due to a stronger decline in the demand for new goods in Europe than in China.
A decreased import of products from Asia has been accompanied by increased export to Asia, especially meat exports, chemicals and timber so far in 2020.
Container exports have also been boosted by an improvement in Rotterdam’s competitiveness in transhipment from Scandinavia and the Baltic to China.
As a result of this, the Port of Rotterdam sends fewer empty containers back than in previous years when import between Asia and Rotterdam consistently exceeded export.
In comparison with the second quarter of 2020, many segments have shown a marked improvement in throughput volumes.
There was a clear increase in the number of containers handled by the port in the third quarter compared to the preceding quarter and the agribulk, iron ore and scrap, biomass and roll-on roll-off (ro-ro) cargo in particular are hoped to have a strong recovery by the end of the third quarter.
Allard Castelein, CEO of the Port of Rotterdam Authority, said: “At present, it is still too early to determine whether have left the worst behind us in economic terms.
“Nevertheless, I am heartened by the revival of international trade flows and the resilience of our economy – in which the rate of recovery naturally depends to an extent on further developments in the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Ro-ro was one of the hardest hit during the first three quarters due to the decreased transport of people and goods to and from the UK.
However, a very poor second quarter was followed by a strong recovery in the third quarter which can be explained among other things by the stocking up on supplies in anticipation of the expiry of the Brexit transition period on December 31, 2020.
Dry bulk decreased by 18.6% compared to the first three quarters of 2019 although, within this segment, biomass throughput actually increased as a result of the increased firing of this product by Dutch power stations.
The growing production of electric power using solar, wind and gas has contributed to a decline in the throughput of thermal coal and falling steel production in Rotterdam’s hinterland has also had a negative impact on volumes of iron ore and coke.
The reduced uptake of crude oil by refineries was the main cause of a 10.4% decline in the liquid bulk segment.
In addition to the bounce-back of certain volumes, the Port of Rotterdam has made other developments in the third quarter.
It has made considerable progress in the construction of the Container Exchange Route, which is expected to become available for operational tests with vehicles in the second quarter of 2021.
The Rotterdam Port Authority also became the first of its kind to become a member of the Hydrogen Council, a global coalition of companies that seek to stimulate the energy transition by promoting the use of hydrogen.
Additionally, the port authority’s former pilot project Boxinsider has been transferred to Portbase, where it has been developed further into a fully functional application that was launched under the new name Cargo Tracker.